- Educational approach needed – Because IPM in tropical smallholder farms is highly dependent on local context, it often calls for farmers’ analytical skills and expertise. Improving farmer expertise requires hands-on education, such as provided by the Farmer Field School, for which there is no shortcut alternative.
- Proven complexity – Impact evaluation of the IPM Farmer Field School has proven to be complex because of methodological obstacles, because of the range of immediate and developmental impacts, and because of different perspectives of stakeholders. Consequently, there is no agreed framework for measuring impact.
- Benefit of combining results – Studies were designed to be either statistically rigorous (but with a restricted scope) or comprehensive (but with limited coverage), but never both. Nevertheless, by converging the results of diverse sources, the comprehensiveness of the overall evaluation was enhanced and the benefits were substantiated through patterns obtained from different perspectives.
- Significant impact on pesticides and yield – The majority of studies measured the immediate impact of training through aggregated data, and reported substantial and consistent reductions in pesticide use attributable to the effect of training. In a number of cases, there was also a convincing increase in yield due to training. Most studies focused on rice.
- Highest returns in non-rice crops – Pesticide reduction and farm-level returns were higher in non-rice crops (vegetables and cotton) than in rice.
- Remarkable developmental impact – A number of studies described broader, developmental impacts of training often using qualitative methods, and in some cases involving farmers in identifying and describing the impacts. Results demonstrated remarkable, widespread and lasting developmental impacts, which have been best documented for Indonesia. It was found that the Farmer Field School stimulated continued learning, and that it strengthened social and political skills, which apparently triggered a range of local activities, relationships and policies related to improved agro-ecosystem management.
- Missing data in some areas – No concerted effort has yet been made to measure impacts of the IPM Farmer Field School on the environment or produce marketing. Only one study addressed impact on occupational health.